South African company comes second in Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy competition

Winners of the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy

Winners of the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy, Dr. Carl Telford and Dr. Jonathan Wilson from Aftrak, and Runner-Up Winners, Randy Kabuya and Deney van Rooyen from Omnivat, pictured with Dr. Patrice Motsepe (left), Mike Milken and Dr. Emily Musil Church (right) at the Milken Institute Global Conference

Photo by The Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize Program

7th May 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer


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The Milken Institute and the Motsepe Foundation have announced Aftrak and Omnivat as winners of the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy – a $2-million innovation competition to reward entrepreneurs working to expand access to reliable, affordable and sustainable offgrid electricity in Africa.

Aftrak, an initiative based out of the UK and Malawi, was awarded the $1-million grand prize for its easily assembled solar microgrid and custom-designed tractors, which have tripled agricultural yield, increased farmer incomes and provided electricity to remote communities.

The runner-up award of $250 000 was presented to South Africa-based Omnivat for its containerised electricity generation and storage system, which provides clean water, clean energy and WiFi enriched by virtual reality support, for remote communities.

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy is the second in the Milken–Motsepe Innovation Prize Program, a series of multiyear, multimillion-dollar global innovation competitions and awards aimed at advancing technological progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The first competition in this programme, the Milken–Motsepe Prize in AgriTech, was launched in 2021, and focused on addressing the goals of no poverty and achieving zero hunger.

After launching in November 2022, hundreds of entrepreneurs from 79 countries on six continents registered to compete for the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy, and 160 of those submitted technological design and business models.

In June 2023, an independent panel of expert judges carefully selected 20 semi-finalists to receive $20 000 to develop and test their innovations.

Each of the teams underwent a rigorous, independent judging process, which assessed their innovation’s potential to deliver 60 kWh of offgrid electricity in a 24-hour period using only sustainable sources.

Five teams were then chosen to advance to the finalist round. Each team received an additional $70 000 and showcased their innovations in a live demonstration in partnership with Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

“Meeting the teams and witnessing their work and determination to solve one of the biggest challenges facing Africa was truly inspiring. We congratulate the Green Energy winners and all the finalists. Your innovations show such promise, and we will be watching with pride as you bring your technologies to market,” says Motsepe Foundation co-founder and CEO Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe.

The third Milken-Motsepe Prize, focused on FinTech, was launched at the 2024 Milken Institute Global Conference. The prize will go to companies that demonstrate the use of cutting-edge technologies to expand access to capital and financial services for small businesses in emerging and frontier markets.

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in FinTech offers $2-million in prizes, with a $1-million grand prize for the winning company. Registration is open until August 6.

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in FinTech is designed to leverage the potential of FinTech solutions to break down barriers to financial inclusion and contribute to the achievement of key SDGs, including alleviating poverty (SDG 1), promoting human wellbeing (SDGs 3 and 4), achieving gender equality (SDG 5), and fostering viable economic opportunities for young people (SDGs 8 and 9).

“The impact of Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prizes goes well beyond the financial awards. This is a global community of entrepreneurs who believe in imagining and building a better, more abundant, and sustainable world.

“Our role is to identify and support these bold entrepreneurs and to help accelerate their success,” says Milken Institute senior director, environmental and social innovation Dr Emily Musil Church.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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